Column: VF Foundation leaves major local gift on behalf of Smartwool as it departs Steamboat |

Column: VF Foundation leaves major local gift on behalf of Smartwool as it departs Steamboat

Jen McLaren
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

To all of our friends and neighbors in the Steamboat Springs Community: Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We’ve had an extraordinary ride together these last 25 years. 

Jen McLaren

Smartwool was founded in Steamboat Springs for good reason — it is the special place that fostered our love for the outdoors and the communities that explore it. Life in this little town drove the products we created, inspired our brand values and purpose, and instilled a sense of gratitude for small town, mountain living that will not soon leave our hearts.

As a brand dedicated to giving back, we loved being based in a strong community like Steamboat Springs where we could engage with and support local organizations and causes. Over the years, Smartwool employees spent more than 15,000 hours supporting organizations like The Nature Conservancy and the launch of the Yampa River Fund, SOS Outreach, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Yampatika, Routt County Riders, The Boys & Girls Club, Carpenter Ranch, and our partners at the United States Forest Service to name a few. 

Philanthropy in this community is as important today as when we were founded 25 years ago. Today, we believe we have both the responsibility and opportunity to introduce the next and more diverse generation of individuals to the places where we love to play and explore. We will continue to give back to this community that has given us so much.

That’s why Smartwool is proud to announce that The VF Foundation, VF Corp.’s private grantmaking organization, will be making a charitable gift to the Winter Sports Club totaling $1.5 million. The donation will directly fund a new Barrows Chairlift located at the historic Howelsen Hill Ski Area. The new lift will replace a decades old, two-person chairlift with a brand new fixed-grip triple chairlift, making it easier for more people to access the mountain.  

Known as the heart of our community, Howelsen Hill is North America’s oldest ski resort where more than 90 Olympians and thousands more people have developed their ski legs, including my own two boys.   

This gift will help ensure Howelsen Hill remains a vibrant place for the community to congregate and celebrate all things winter. It will also enable the SSWSC to continue inspiring outdoor participation through sport and mentorship with transformative programs that make the outdoors accessible to more kids and families like Free Ski Sundays, the Ski Town USA Second Grade program, and the ACE After School Program for English language learners.

The VF Foundation’s gift is a true testament to the community and the people that built the Smartwool brand. We make this gift in your honor.

Thank you, Steamboat Springs. Your mountain town spirit will forever live in our brand. 

We’ll see you outside. 

Jen McLaren is the brand president of Smartwool.

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